On Thursday, UK voters voted 52/48 to leave the European Union. The question that everyone has asked me since then is: “what happens next?”
The short answer is that nobody knows.
The process will go as follows:
Sometime between now and the end of the year, the Prime Minister of the UK will officially inform the EU of the result. There seems no desire to rush this, and only the UK can initiate it, with a formal letter or presentation to the EU.
Following that letter, which invokes Article 50 of the EU treaty (the termination clause), the UK and the EU have 2 years to debate how the UK will exit all of the EU treaties, and to notify what, if anything, will replace them. Trade agreements normally take between 5 to 10 years to negotiate, with an average of 8 years, so you can readily see that we have quite some work ahead, especially since the UK does not have much recent expertise in this field.
As a first contribution to the debate, please read this document, which deals with the legal and constitutional issues, and residency issues, surrounding Brexit.